Words by Kathy Iandoli
You toss, you turn. You toss some more. The not so surprising news is you’re not alone. A good night’s sleep doesn’t come to many, as over 30% of the American population admits to some form of insomnia, while more than half of all Americans point to stress as their reason for lack of rest. The numbers grow as our age does, considering an average of 50% of Americans over 60 are admitted insomniacs. It’s not impossible to conquer though, as many of our daily routines and rituals can actually affect what happens when we sleep (or at least try to). Here are a few helpful tips on how to fight insomnia and get that rest you need.
De-stress De-stress De-stress
Like we mentioned, the root of insomnia for many is stress and/or anxiety. If you lead a stressful life, that may be the direct cause of your lack of sleep. And sure, everyone can say that they’re stressed, but once the symptoms turn physical, there’s some work to be done that goes far beyond telling yourself “don’t stress.” However, there are some tips that can calm insomnia and ease your stress at the same time.
Meditate On The Situation
Think of your mind like a giant hamster wheel, where during evening hours that hamster is seemingly in search of a good workout. If you find your thoughts race at night, try some meditation. There are meditation podcasts, guided imagery, or even deep breathing that can calm your mind before you hit the hay. Some even admit to falling asleep mid-meditation (especially when using meditation routines directly related to helping sleep patterns). Try it at night, but also add a meditation during the day to ease your stress all around.
Work It Out
Exercise is not only an excellent way to relieve stress, but it also helps your body to relax come bedtime. Depending on your level of fitness, some light cardio or hitting the weights hard can really make a difference in your sleeping patterns. But there is one caveat and it involves paying attention to your own body clock. Some enjoy working out and then crashing right to bed, while others find that a workout right before they sleep leaves them too pumped to shut their eyes. Figure out what works best for you.
Have A Routine
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. It’s really that simple. Your body’s clock will slowly adjust to both hours and perk up/wind down when it needs to. Right before bed, maybe have a set ritual before, where you read or meditate, or do something else that’s calming before you settle into bed. There are days where you can’t meet these time requirements, and that’s fine. Your body will eventually do it for you.
A Cut-Off Time For Caffeine
There are some people who boast drinking a full cup of coffee at night right before an amazing night’s sleep. You might not be that person. Limit your caffeine intake during evening hours, also later in the afternoon. That includes eating chocolate or drinking chocolate, and soda or energy drinks. Cut it off earlier in the day. Also, limit sugar and alcohol in the evening as well, since it can make you as hyper as you are with a cup of coffee right before bedtime. Try some herbal tea before bed for some much needed calm.
Say No To Naps
Pay attention once again to your body. That afternoon nap could be killing your nighttime sleep. While slight power naps are okay to push through the day, an all out sleep mid-day may result in no sleep at night. If you can, nix the nap.
Turn Off The TV
Television for many adds a stimulation overload before bed that can directly affect the amount of sleep they get at night. If you’re an avid TV watcher, maybe try doing it in another room before bed and settling into your quiet room with the TV off. Need some background noise to sleep? Maybe invest in a white noise machine or download some apps to your phone that emit white noise.
While sleep-aids aren’t always the best way to go, Melatonin is a natural supplement. Consult your physician for this option or any other sleep-aids.